Humectants are a group of hygroscopic substances that are used to keep things moist. They are important ingredients of skincare and hair care products as they retain moisture. Humectants transfer and retain moisture from air by absorption or drawing water vapor below into the organism’s or the object’s surface. They are mainly comprised of several hydrophilic groups including amines, hydroxyl and carboxyl groups. Humectants include proteins, polysaccharides, acids, alcohols and other small molecules including urea, glycerine, aloe vera and sorbitol among others. The major applications of humectants include cosmetics, medicines, pesticides, paints & coatings and food industry. They are also used as co-solvents in different formulations.
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Rising demand from cosmetics industry is expected to drive the humectants market, whereas changing lifestyle in developing countries is expected to drive the cosmetics market. In addition, rising demand from medicines is expected to fuel the humectants market. For example, hyaluronic acid, a humectant is being used in treating osteoarthritis which is injected in knees. Further, growing demand from food industry as a additive is expected to boost the market growth. Sorbitol is the common humectant that is used as a food additive in sugarless food products. Another example of food additive is polydextrose which is used to replace sugar in food products. Humectants are being used in water borne paints to hold the moisture content when they are stored. Owing to rising population and increasing infrastructure investment, construction industry is driving the paints and coatings industry which in turn drives humectants market.
However some of the humectants has adverse effect on human health that is expected to hamper the market growth. For example polydextrose has a laxative effect and hyaluronic acid can also induce cancer when injected in high dosage. Some of the humectants are derivatives of petroleum products and are subjected to price volatility as they are derived from crude oil. Some of the humectants are derived from specific natural sources including plant extracts and sea weeds among others. Availability of these specific sources is expected to hamper the market growth as constant supply of raw material is a major challenge. Technological advances in the field of cosmetics and food industry are expected to increase the applications of humectants and provide immense opportunities for the players in this market.
Lifestyle and FDA approval for use of humectants in food is expected to fuel the market in North America. Rising use of humectants in food owing to less calories and moisture holding capacity is expected to fuel the global market. Use of humectants in Europe is limited to use in cosmetics and government is focused on the use of naturally occurring humectants as they are less harmful than synthetic counter parts. Europe was followed by Asia Pacific in terms of consumption; however it is expected to be the fastest growing market for humectants. Changing lifestyle and rising disposable income is driving paints & coatings and cosmetics industry in this region, which is in turn expected to drive the humectants market.
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Some of the key players in this market include BASF, The Dow Chemical Company, Wuhan Sanjiang Space Gude Biotech Co., Ltd, VMP Chemiekontor, Lubrizol, Lipo Chemicals among others.